Believe the rumors.
The midwest is spilling over with Americana this time of year, and I kind of love it.
We spent our fourth of July weekend at a few different locales, giving us a good dose of middle America hospitality and mirth. The festivities began in our church parking lot at the annual Cornerstone tailgate party. Bounce houses, face painting, snow cones, bagpipes, fireworks.. it was all there. When the sun started to fade, everyone gathered on a big hill and waited for the first signs of color to burst in the sky.
Sunday was a full day, as we enjoyed church together and visited three parties that afternoon. For the first one, we drove to Chippewa Lake and spent time making new friends, I had my face (and arm and hands) painted by the kids and watched those same kids jump off the neighborhood dock and shriek with delight at how cold the water felt in the hot sun. And the food, oh man! Did they do it up right. For our second stop, we joined a few folks in Medina for a family backyard BBQ. After hugs and introductions, we relaxed and engaged in discussions about sex ed in schools, communism vs. socialism, marriage, childhood memories and apple pie.
From there, we ended our evening in Spencer with two friends who insisted on showing us "the best fireworks display in the area." Not only did Spencer put on a good show, they also had the best kettle corn I've ever eaten! (the sweet potato fries came in a close second.) Ah, nothing says hometown goodness like portable toilets, funnel cakes and a dunk tank. Spencer was the place to be!
Patty also brought her famous chocolate-dipped pretzels, and I brought my mosquito repellant fans. Our friends were right, the fireworks were really something. Everyone sat on one end of a big field while the local firemen lit fuses on the other end. The explosions were so close to us that every time a rocket would propel in to the air and burst, we could feel the boom in our chests all the way down to our toes.
Monday completed our holiday marathon with a pool party. Paul & Pam opened up their oasis of a home and hosted a lively gathering. We all sat in the summer sun sharing stories, playing water volleyball and applying (and reapplying) sunscreen. I played referee for the first two games with a floppy hat on my head and a plastic whistle around my neck. The competitiveness, laughter, and seeing my husband having so much fun in the pool were my favorite.. until I got cooked. It was a good day. Word has it, Paul & Pam just built a 40-foot slip 'n slide in their backyard. Now, that would be worth braving the heat for. Who's with me?
It's true, there is something lovely about sharing space with friends and complete strangers. Every place we went to over the weekend reminded us of how good community feels. The American flag-lined streets, patriotic t-shirts, homegrown parades, picnic tables, lemonade stands, potato salad, children waving sparklers, and the smell of grilled meat were everywhere.